Part 3 of my iPad (32GB, WIFI, iPhone OS 3.2) review:
- General Review
- List of Areas for Improvement
- iPad for Consumers (here)
- iPad for Business Users
- iPad for Photographers
- My Current Favorite iPad Apps
(9/29 Update: Parental preparation and then adaptation has kept me from finishing this series on the iPad. Once home life stabilizes in a few months I may try to wrap it up in some fashion…)
It is no secrete that Apple produces products for consumers (Steve Job indirectly admits this in the first paragraph of his Thoughts on Flash letter). And the iPad is a wonderful consumer based computing platform.
Notice I didn’t say computer but rather computing platform. It’s different enough from your current desktop/laptop that you can’t really compare the two (though we try because this is our current point of reference). For the consumer, the person who primarily needs or wants to consume information/entertainment, the iPad is a great platform in which to do it.
It fits in your hands, you use your hands to interact with it, and applications are only starting to take advantage of the user interface. It truly makes the information on the Internet more personable to you. Each week there are more iPad specific information consumption applications that become available. Whether your reading email or a book, browsing the web or the current news, watching a movie or a streamed TV show the iPad makes consuming content more enjoyable.
The iPad is an application platform, which means that the best way to consume content on it is through applications that take advantage of it’s unique capabilities. Luckily, for content providers, these applications essentially pull data from their existing websites and just display it in a new, more personal, context of the iPad application. So all a company like ABC, BBC, NPR, or the Wall Street Journal needs to do is build an App that talks to their existing websites.
This is why the issue of Flash not running within the iPad’s web browser becomes a less important topic. Viewing content through the existing web sites of these content providers gives the consumer a less than optimal viewing experience on the iPad. Most websites aren’t designed to truly take advantage of the iPad’s unique interface. Over time they may eventually be able to take advantage of the interface, but not yet. While supporting flash would give the iPad users more content options, Apple would rather have those content providers build an App for their content. That’s the trick of any new platform, they only become successful if the platform provider can convince, or force through fear of lost potential market of consumers, others to build on top of it.
The fact that the interface is intuitive and hands on makes a more ideal platform for new or hesitant computer users…like elderly parents. The self-contained nature of the iPad means less plugs and wires to go wrong and confuse a less savvy user. I’ve heard of many iPad users who let their parents use it and had a hard time getting it back. I honestly think that my mother, who currently doesn’t use the computer at all, would actually use the iPad (next time I’m home for a visit we’ll find out…).
The only downside to the iPad for consumers is that need for a another computer to activate and backup the device. This should really be an optional step for syncing media to the device only. If this was the case, I think there would be more people possibly using the iPad as their only computer…like my Parents.
A case for the iPad is a must. After using my iPad for 3 weeks without a case, I finally got my back ordered Apple iPad Case and it makes a huge difference. The ability to stand the iPad upright to watch a video or to prop it more upright in your lap is a must. The non-slip surface also helps keep the iPad in the right spot on our lap for the most comfortable use, not to mention protects the iPad. I recently also came across the Moleskine inspired DodoCase which I found really appealing. The hand made DodoCase is made like a book and contains all natural materials to encase the iPad in a cover that looks more like a journal than. It was either my penchant for Moleskine journals or the thought of wrapping my high tech iPad in all natural materials that made me order one. Check back in 4-6 weeks for a review.